Versus' big marketing plans for its Tour de France coverage this year -- heightened by the return of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the event -- are anticipated to dramatically improve viewers' results versus a year ago. [...]
Versus has been airing the Tour since 2001, airing five of the seven wins that Armstrong grabbed. The network earned some of its biggest ratings for the three-week-long cycling event, pushed by the story of Armstrong's amazing comeback from cancer. Tour viewership trended down afterward.
What about the ratings this time around? "Higher than last year," says Fein. Fein says Armstrong will help a lot, but growth in viewership from other TV sports on the network will contribute as well.
Versus notes the 2008 live morning telecasts -- its main show -- averaged a 0.3 household rating and 267,722 viewers. The network had more than 80% growth in viewership among men 18-34 against 2007's live programming.
Versus says 33 million viewers in 2008 watch some of the cycling event, a number that actually was higher than in the Armstrong years. One note: Versus has more subscribers now than in the years Armstrong was racing.